Commentary Archive

Indiana loses critical game — without putting up a fight

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What was left of Indiana’s crowd booed. Most of it had left minutes earlier.

Indiana coach Tom Crean even hastily instructed his players: “Shake hands and get off the court.”

This was the humbling scene after the final buzzer sounded on Tuesday night, ending Indiana’s 77-63 loss to Iowa in Assembly Hall. It was the Hoosiers’ second straight loss at home — the first time that has happened since the 2010-2011 season.

Heading into this game, the Hoosiers had stressed how important it would be to win. They lost it without putting up a fight.

“A loss like this,” Yogi Ferrell said, “is pretty disappointing.”

The Hoosiers had six days to prepare for Tuesday’s game following last Wednesday’s seven-point loss at Northwestern. Ferrell on Sunday said they believed “we have the most energy we’ve had all season.”

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What to Expect: Iowa

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Indiana returns to Assembly Hall on Tuesday evening following a split of a two-game roadtrip that included a win at Rutgers and a loss at Northwestern. The Hoosiers will host Iowa, which is 19-10 overall and 10-6 in Big Ten play.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m. with Mike Tirico and Dan Dakich on the call:

Wednesday’s loss at Northwestern was costly for Indiana. It was the sixth for the Hoosiers in their last 10 contests and also the first damaging loss in terms of the RPI. The Wildcats are outside of the top 100 in those ratings, which are used by the NCAA tournament selection committee.

But all is not lost for Indiana even as it slides closer to the tournament bubble. There’s a chance to right the ship this week as Iowa and Michigan State come to Assembly Hall. A win on Tuesday will go a long way in solidifying Indiana’s footing for the tournament as the Hawkeyes are in the RPI top 50 and it would also be IU’s tenth league win and 20th win overall.

Indiana isn’t unblemished at home this season, but the Hoosiers have been tough to beat on Branch McCracken Court with a 15-2 mark and the losses coming by a combined six points. The final week of the regular season is here, Selection Sunday is less than two weeks away and the spotlight is shining bright on Assembly Hall.

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Big Ten Power Rankings: March 2

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The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week, as Wisconsin has clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title while five other teams remain in contention for top four Big Ten tournament seeding.

Here’s a look at where each team stands following the ninth week of play in 2015: 

14. Rutgers (10-19, 2-14, PPP: .89, PPP Allowed: 1.07) (Last week: 14) … The 12-game losing streak continues, but the Scarlet Knights showed life in Thursday’s loss at Purdue. They got down by as many as 20 points midway through the second half, but to close the game Rutgers outscored Purdue, 38-25, even cutting the Boilermakers lead to just six points with 21 seconds remaining. The game also happened to have the Scarlet Knights’ most efficient offensive output in that losing streak at 1.11 PPP, their best mark since their Jan. 11 win over Wisconsin. (Next up: March 3 vs. Maryland; March 7 at Michigan)

13. Penn State (15-14, 3-13, PPP: .95, PPP Allowed: 1.01) (Last week: 13) … They had just one game this past week, and the Nittany Lions nearly managed to earn their first win in three weeks. But an up-and-down game against Iowa ended in yet another loss for Pat Chambers’ squad, as it sealed a bottom-four finish in the league for the fourth straight year in Chambers’ tenure. The Nittany Lions, however, did give Iowa a run for its money — taking a 12-point lead early and coming back from a seven-point halftime deficit to force overtime. The stinging, game-deciding play, however? A D.J. Newbill turnover with 30 seconds left in his second-to-last ever game inside the Bryce Jordan Center that turned into two Iowa free throws and an insurmountable deficit. (Next up: March 4 vs. Ohio State; March 8 at Minnesota)

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag: February 28

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The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions tweeted to us via Twitter (@insidethehall), via email, submitted on our premium forum and sent to us via our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

bk39 on the premium forum writes: Collin Hartman, how important is he to this team defensively, and is he expected to return for Iowa?

Collin Hartman has been huge to this team, defensively. Especially in the absence of Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Hartman held whatever semblance of a defensive post presence the Hoosiers had left with his physicality in dealing with opposing big men in the halfcourt. He held 6-foot-11 Illinois big man Nnanna Egwu to zero points and just two rebounds — in Champaign. Against Maryland, he shut down 6-foot-11 Damonte Dodd from the start. Despite being 6-foot-7 and undersized when he is used at the five, he really has done a solid job at not allowing himself to be dominated inside with good technique, quickness and simply being unafraid. And the numbers speak for themselves — the Hoosiers were 6-4 with him in the starting lineup, and while he doesn’t necessarily stand out in the stat sheet, he has accounted for 31.5 percent of Indiana’s blocks in Big Ten play.

As far as his playing status is concerned for Tuesday’s game, we should find out more on Monday — whether it be via Tom Crean’s Big Ten coaches conference call appearance, his pregame press conference or his radio show. But he has said that Hartman is day-to-day with that leg injury, and having this weekend to recover should help, as well. – Jordan Littman

@robosalt on Twitter writes: Why does IU switch from man to zone mid-possession? Never seen it before.

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What to Expect: Northwestern

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Indiana goes on the road for the final time this season on Wednesday night for a trip to Evanston to face Northwestern at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Wildcats are 13-14 overall and 4-10 in the Big Ten, but have won three in a row.

The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. ET with Eric Collins and Stephen Bardo on the call:

Indiana picked up its first win away from Assembly Hall in more than a month on Sunday at Rutgers with an 84-54 rout that was the worst home loss for the Scarlet Knights in 10 years.

Now it will look for a fourth Big Ten road win in a venue that’s typically filled with a large contingency of Hoosier fans in Welsh-Ryan Arena. Indiana won in Evanston last season, but Northwestern has some momentum late in the season with three straight wins (at Minnesota, Iowa, Penn State).

A win would give Indiana its 20th on the season and make the Hoosiers a near certainty to make the NCAA tournament field next month. A loss, however, would mean there’s still work to do to close out the regular season in Bloomington.

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Big Ten Power Rankings: February 23

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The Inside the Hall Big Ten Power Rankings are back for another week, as Wisconsin is now just a game away from clinching at least a share of the Big Ten title, while three other teams — Purdue, Maryland and Michigan State — have separated themselves by a two-game margin in the top four of the Big Ten standings.

Here’s a look at where each team stands following the eighth week of play in 2015: 

14. Rutgers (10-18, 2-13, PPP: .87, PPP Allowed: 1.07) (Last week: 14) … The Scarlet Knights’ pitiful slide toward the bottom of the Big Ten standings took another step in that direction this past week with two 30-point losses. The first, an 81-47 defeat, came on the road at Iowa, who was coming off two losses of their own. The second was an 84-54 home loss to Indiana on Sunday, the fifth straight game they were limited to less than a point per possession. After Sunday’s loss, Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan was asked whether his team still has fight. It does, he suggested, but he said his team simply isn’t “good enough” yet to compete in this league. (Next up: Feb. 26 at Purdue)

13. Penn State (15-13, 3-12, PPP: .95, PPP Allowed: 1.01) (Last week: 12) Another season has gone to the wayside for the Nittany Lions. There was a glimmer of hope after beating Nebraska on Feb. 7, but since then they have turned in three of their four-worst offensive outputs of the season — two of them coming in the past week — all of them losses. In fact, Saturday’s 60-39 defeat at Northwestern, in which they recorded just .68 PPP, was the third worst offensive effort the Nittany Lions have had in Pat Chambers’s entire four years in State College. (Next up: Feb. 28 vs. Iowa)

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What to Expect: Rutgers

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Indiana begins a two-game road trip on Sunday evening in Piscataway, N.J., as the Hoosiers meet the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the Rutgers Athletic Center. Rutgers is 10-17 overall and 2-12 in Big Ten play.

The game will be broadcast on BTN at 5:15 p.m. ET with Cory Provus and Stephen Bardo on the call:

Rutgers beat Wisconsin, 67-62, on Jan. 11. Rutgers has not won a game since. After starting the Big Ten season 2-2, the Scarlet Knights have dropped 10 in a row. The losses have come by an average of 15.2 points. In what’s being viewed as a down season in the league, Rutgers is the Big Ten’s worst team and it’s not really close.

With Indiana’s loss on Thursday to Purdue at Assembly Hall, the margin of error for the Hoosiers is a bit smaller. One thing that currently separates Indiana from the NCAA tournament bubble right now is the absence of a really bad loss. Losing to Eastern Washington at home wasn’t ideal, but the Eagles are No. 74 in the RPI, so it’s not all that detrimental to the résumé.

Losing to Rutgers, however, would be another story. The Scarlet Knights are No. 144 in the RPI and are coming off a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Iowa in Iowa City. Simply put, Indiana needs to take care of business on Sunday or the tournament outlook for the Hoosiers could get interesting quickly.

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